According to ECU, Equality challenge unit, unconscious bias refers to a bias that we are unaware of, and which happens outside of our control. It is a bias that happens automatically and is triggered by our brain making quick judgments and assessments of people and situations, influenced by our background, cultural environment and personal experiences.
Implicit bias refers to the same area, but questions the level to which these biases are unconscious especially as we are being made increasingly aware of them. Once we know that biases are not always explicit, we are responsible for them. We all need to recognize and acknowledge our biases and find ways to mitigate their impact on our behavior and decisions.
(Source: Harvard’s Project Implicit) The Implicit Association Test (IAT) is commonly used to measure implicit bias in individuals. The IAT measures the strength of associations between concepts (e.g., black people, old people, or gay people) and evaluations (e.g., good or bad) or characteristics (e.g., athletic, smart, or clumsy). The IAT is based on the observation that people place two words in the same category more quickly if the words are already associated in the brain. For example, the rate at which a person can link the words “black” or “white” with “good” or “bad” indicates their implicit bias.
On an Ohio State University website they mention “Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.” Some popular debiasing techniques include:
- discounting commonly held stereotypes
- using context to influence implicit responses
- changing the way an out-group member is evaluated and categorised
- using contact to change the level of threat evoked by an out-group
- using motivation to change responses to an out-group
- encouraging people to take responsibility for their implicit biases
Good overview video: https://youtu.be/OoBvzI-YZf4
Thinking fast and slow – Daniel Kahneman
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